Sunday, September 19,
'Even if I end up killed'
by Suzzane B. Salva.
"I will go all the way with this crusade even
if I get killed," said 58-year-old businessman Miguel del Gallego. "What
else can I do? Somebody has to do it."
It's been a one-man, seven month campaign for del
Gallego in his unfamiliar role as sleuth, court record digger, and
Running his industrial parts supply company
in Mandaue City has taken a back seat to tasks like visiting isolated
crime scenes, interviewing witnesses and explaining his progress in
radio talk shows and a journal.
His full-time mission: to save a life
by proving the innocence of his daughters' friend, Paco Larraņaga, who is
sentenced to death by lethal injection in the celebrated 1998 Chiong case
where six other Cebuanos were convicted.
After his tearful departure last Feb.
20 (2004) as chairman of the Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP)
Visayas chapter, a civic group he had led for over 10 years, del Gallego's
days have been consumed with a post-Chiong investigation and trying to get
a last-stage reversal of the sentence.
In a quiet third floor of Degalen
Industries, his company in Subangdaku, Mandaue City, he pores over court
records of the 1998 court trial.
The master's bedroom has been
replaced by a "war room" -- a study table, a white board posted mmm
SOLO QUEST. Mike del
Gallego points to crime photos of the Chiong case, which he analyzes with
a growing collection of court records inside his "war room" in his
business office in Mandaue City.
Photo by Lito
and another table holding nine piles of folders of newspaper clippings and
When the road gets
lonely, del Gallego looks up at a quote on the wall: "The truth is on the
march, and nothing shall stop it." That line comes from an open letter by
Emilie Zola, French novelist and critic, founder of the Naturalist
The power of that letter, "J'ACCUSE",
written in January 13, 1898, reopened the case of Alfred Dreyfus, a Jewish
army officer, who was sentenced to Devil's Island in French Guiana after
being falsely charged with giving military secrets to the Germans.
For being so vocal, the writer
was sentenced in 1898 to imprisonment and removed from the roll of the
Legion of Honor. He escaped to England and returned after Captain Drefus
Del Gallego said he doesn't
foresee that fate for himself, not while we live in a society that prizes
free expression. "We are now in the 20th century. The Supreme Court will
not jail a person for coming out with the truth. The truth is that
important," he said.